Lovers who are love sick, literally!

Lovers who are love sick, literally!

Death as the inevitable barrier between two lovey-dovey people is a loose knot which can be tightened around any situation, figuratively speaking....

Death as the inevitable barrier between two lovey-dovey people is a loose knot which can be tightened around any situation, figuratively speaking. Firstly, it allows a nice little loop of a melodrama in which the entire story can be played out however, the director wants it as per his visualisation and characterisation.

Then comes the ancillary portions - aching sentiment, family pressures and the climax, which can depend on how much pathos the poor audience, can take at the end. In what can be asserted as it being one of the landmark films in Telugu cinema, ‘Geethanjali’, the summer 1989 release helmed by Mani Ratnam had all the above and much more.

It had Ilaiyarajaa, the maestro who had by then established himself all across India as a music director of repute. Then the combo of Nagarjuna, who had waited for a chance to act under Ratnam and a new name as a heroine – Girija Shettar- who was not heard of later- added up to the attraction.

As it was a regular feature of that era, hit films usually had most of their songs, if not all, turning out to be chartbusters. ‘Geethanjali’ too did not disappoint in this regard. The song for this column “Oh Priya Priya” is special because it is not just a melodious number with the typical flash and thump of Ilaiyarajaa to go along with its tune.

It was among the first of the numbers, which caught the attention of upcountry music directors – Anand-Milind – to be specific. The Hindi version of this number was used by him in the 1990 hit ‘Dil’ starring Aamir Khan and Madhuri Dixit. The wail of a humming tone that the song begins with matches with the scene unfolding on screen- one that of a sand dune in a harsh desert.

The anguish is further compounded as the hero laments about how hopeless it is for him even as he leaves no stone unturned to meet his lady love. In what is clearly a goose bump moment, the heroine who arrives at the spot in a palanquin rushes with the background voice and score at a high pitch, assuaging her lover.

Not for long as the heartless folks around them forcibly separate the desperate duo, as the scene switches to another corner of Rajasthan, the locale for the song. The torture continues for the hero as he is physically assaulted, while the defiant heroine says neither fire can scorch nor water can douse their love, as the lyricist puts it. The singers add their magical lilt and float to the song, especially the “oh priya priya” bit, which is effortlessly rendered by both the veterans.

The line-up of the camels, colourful flags, surging action-seeking crowd and the unforgiving sand stretches heighten the effect of the song pretty well. One is even reminded of a similar setting, which Ratnam put to use for a song in his film ‘Dalapathy’ released two years later, with Rajinikanth and Shobana featured in it.

PC Sreeram, the ace cinematographer captures the ambience as professionally as he only can, even making the heroine stumble across the sand laden route with a camel in tow! This time around, Nagarjuna is about to be gobbled up by quicksand and the desperate heroine hunts for him. The love adventure ends well with the heroine saving her beau and the song ends in a typical manner as they march away on a camel back into the sunset. Of course, forever, into romantic hearts too…

Film : Geetanjali (1989)
Singer : SPB, Chitra
Song : O Priya Priya
Lyrics : Veturi
Music : Ilaiyarajaa

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